Aaron Posner, who featured music by Wright in his popular Folger production of Twelfth Night last season, directs. Opening is Jan. 28. Performances continue to Feb. 29.
"Romance and joy are resurrected from grief through the redemptive power of art in Melissa Arctic," according to production notes. "In mythical small towns of Minnesota, the lives of Leonard (originally, Leontes), his wife Mina (Hermione), and their childhood friend Paul (Polixenes) are forever changed. Original music and lyrics by Wright add a unique dimension to this story of tragedy and rebirth."
"I had always liked The Winter's Tale by Shakespeare," playwright Wright said in Washington Theater Review, "but never liked the way it ended with the indication that Hermione had been hidden away all these years by Paulina. It seemed so mechanical to me and not really what the play was about. It's not that Shakespeare made a mistake, I just wished it were different. What I saw in the play was the notion that it really is a statue and it really does come to life in the play. I wanted to portray the idea that art can restore to us things we've lost through our own errors or through the ravages of time."
Melissa Arctic is the third in a series of Wright plays set in Pine City, Minnesota, including Molly's Delicious and Pulitzer Prize-nominee, The Pavilion. His play Recent Tragic Events received the American Theatre Critics Circle 2003 award and a 2002 Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding New Play. Other plays include Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty, Orange Flower Water and Main Street.
Melissa Arctic is the third world premiere of a Craig Wright play directed by Posner. The cast includes Holly Twyford as Mina (Hermione), Dori Legg as Cindy (Paulina), David Marks as Alec (Shepherd), Ian Merrill Peakes as Leonard (Leontes), and James Sugg in multiple roles. Making their Folger debut are Kelly AuCoin as Paul (Polixenes), Miriam Liora Ganz as Melissa (Perdita), Mark J. Sullivan as Ferris (Florizell) and Michael Willis as Lindy (Antigonus). Deaf actor and Gallaudet student Kyle Thomas will sign the role of Carl (Camillo). Kiah Victori performs the role of Time.
Designers are Tony Cisek (set), Kate Turner-Walker (costume), Dan Covey (lighting) and James Sugg (sound).
Tickets range $25-$48. Folger Theatre is at Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202)544-7077 or visit www.folger.edu.